Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What is "cultural awareness"?

I was listening to the CBC News this morning about the death of Romeo Wesley during a take-down by two police officers in a nursing station at Cat Lake First Nations, Ontario. The resulting inquest into his death just came out with a jury's report that includes 53 recommendations including:

-Ensure nurses in Indigenous communities get cultural awareness training before getting placed in a community. [emphasis mine]

It got me thinking again about what exactly "cultural awareness" is. I think I've made mention of this concept and concluded somewhere in this blog or elsewhere that "culture" as used by government-indigenous relations is really an empty, umbrella buzz-word. And I'll tell you why.

I've thought a lot about the concept Inuit (sans 'traditional') Knowledge or IQ especially in my years as a policy analyst/advocate for Inuit language and education rights. Never have I heard nor seen a realistic, let alone satisfactory, definition/explanation of "culture" throughout all my years in the discourse. In other words, it is one of those things in government reports intended to be dangled in front of Indigenous peoples mostly as a "negotiation" tactic.

It is intended most of all to pass the buck back to the aboriginals so governments can rightly claim that they've listened and heard what we want without having to own up. This is because the obverse of the argument is the uncomfortable notion of government fiduciary responsibility, plain and simple.

Let no one be responsible, most of all not the government, if things go drastically wrong in the interventions such as the one that resulted in Wesley's death which are all to common. Let no notions of human decency interfere in the mindless operations of government.

But I'm not here to lay blame. Why I'm writing this entry is to argue that what we (both sides, I mean) have fundamental responsibilities to try and better this unjust and unjustifiable relations.

What I mean is that we need to ensure ethics (not "culture awareness") training for not just nurses, but for every non-indigenous government employee who serves in the frontlines in our communities (I would include in our non-indigenous communities here).

Don't get me wrong: I have great respect and appreciation for most of these souls who take their jobs, their calling, most seriously and want nothing but the best be reflected in their service records simply because of who they are and what their characters demand of them. We (the both sides) can learn so much from them. These are people who can see beyond race and colour of those they've come to serve in the name of human decency.

In being confronted by novelty all of us start out from a probationary position. We learn proper etiquette and behaviours by learning from others. Our education, in this respect, has nothing to do with "cultural awareness" and everything to do with well-formedness both in the professional and personal senses.

It has always been the kindness and compassion of others that have me carried this far. And, like people like me, I've done and said things I'm not proud of at all. I've needed to be talked down from great mental and emotional distress in my life, including by the police. I'm talking here about decent people who've been there to do their jobs with honour and decorum (sadly, above and beyond the call of duty).

No one, among us, after all should ever be judge, jury and executioner. Usually, when we do our jobs it is a small part we've been assigned within a much larger picture. This "small" part is a link in a chain, though, mind you, a very important link nonetheless.

There are always community leaders, respected healers/elders. Perhaps we should seriously think about including them in the protocols where their safety and security are not jeopardized. I think had an elder or healer been called in, Wesley's meaningless and unnecessary death would had been avoided. I don't know, but I think he was asking desperately for help with his alcoholism...

I think what I'm trying to say is that community involvement (not "cultural awareness") in police and medical intervention, wherever realistic and possible, is what is missing, sorely missing.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Linkin Park

Chester Bennington,

I totally disagree with your decision to cut your life short but I respect it. Very few can or could have walked in your shoes and come away as long as you did. You ran with the best and put most to rest and went as far as you did. ALL ON YOUR OWN.

A beautiful voice and musical creativity hardly paralleled. You were the spirit of humanity, broken but perseverant. You remind me of many I know and knew (sadly).

Growing old is never a disgrace. It is time to let go and let G*d. Tomorrow is a new day...


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Some aspects of Taoism in Inuit Knowledge

-The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions into our consciousness.
-Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.

In IQ (Inuit Knowledge) the philosophy to learning is experience: we see; we observe; we try our hand; we try again. Having said that, we have our guides and advisors: our parents and those more knowledgeable and experienced than us, people we can trust.

In Jean Brigg's Morality Play, we see that some statements and directions from our loved ones and people we know from forever is not always the "truth", a harmless misdirection or challenge intended to make us think, to attain a higher dimension into our consciousness.

-At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and what you want.
-When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

Inuit believe in reincarnation. The elders say that we all die and are reborn in those who are given our names. We retain some characteristics and mannerisms of our namesakes in our next lives but we also have the capacity to evolve. In my youth my mom was always fond of saying that I just acted exactly as my namesake (which I will not divulge). I always took this as I'm not exactly my namesake; I'm undeniably me. I'm not defined by the name(s) that was given to me, but I belong to a greater whole in which I exist.

Actually, Inuit all have more than one name. These are not "nicknames" but rather that we are someone to our family and loved ones and someone else still to those who loved or hated us in our previous lives. Our given names are our honour, our human connection, even if we were born of a different name.

-Nature is not human hearted.
-Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?

All things in Nature have their time. We are not in control, are not the final arbiters of Nature. We are subject to, are subjects of Nature. Kangiqtugaapingmiut are not people or residents of the Clyde River area but subjects of that area. All existence and what exists there is possible because of what Nature has to offer. How far its blessings and limitations (its yin and yang, if you will) have carried me in my life. Only in my advancing age and experience have I begin to appreciate that.

-Going back to the first point above (that we learn by experience) my greatest highs and my lowest funks have all been necessary in my education.


September when it comes

I love Johnny Cash. I'm not much into country music but the man in black is more than that. September When It Comes was written by Rosanne Cash and John B Leventhal as a tribute to Johnny Cash.

There's a cross above the baby's bed,
A Savior in her dreams.
But she was not delivered then,
And the baby became me.
There's a light inside the darkened room,
A footstep on the stair.
A door that I forever close,
To leave those memories there.
So when the shadows link them,
Into an evening sun.
Well first there's summer, then I'll let you in.
September when it comes.
I plan to crawl outside these walls,
Close my eyes and see.
And fall into the heart and arms,
Of those who wait for me.
I cannot move a mountain now
I can no longer run.
I cannot be who I was then
In a way, I never was.
I watch the clouds go sailing
I watch the clock and sun.
Oh, I watch myself, depending on,
September when it comes.
So when the shadows link them,
And burn away the clouds.
They will fly me, like an angel,
To a place where I can rest.
When this begins, I'll let you know,
September when it comes.
and here is a link to the video:

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

if at all possible...

I'd like to donate my (viable) organs upon my death.

I am of sound mind and body...and I love the fact that I'm alive.

without art...

without life there is no art

without art there is only thug life

there is nothing there...only pain, only sadness

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The thing about...

...the Putin-Trump thingy is that it is purely an exercise in the ridiculous bordering on the absurd, a disjointed, perverted reality.

Never have I ever seen a "strongman" so obsequious to such a better as Trump has been to Putin. Pathetic. I bet you Trump couldn't sleep the night before his audience with Machia...I mean, Putin.

We can see in the official photos Putin grimacing at Trump, who's apparently creaming his knickers in anticipation of a good going through by his don.

Putin, such a powerful figure in his realm of influence. "in his realm of influence" being the key phrase here.

He may have meddled in the US elections that got Trump in the Oval Office. And has, so far, been able to sustain a grip on Trump and his administration. But little does he seem to realize that Trump does not, and can never, rule as he does.

The great institutions and bureaucracies of the United States of America are too mature and set to rid of so easily. They are truly the checks and balances of the immense power of the President. Already, the system has responded and a special counsel appointed to investigate the Russian hacking of the 2016 US elections. Many intel agencies and public safety departments have had their unblinking eyes seemingly since day one on the actors that apparently played their shameful roles in the immense assault on America's sovereignty and integrity.

Whether we may never "find out" what truly happened is now and long since beside the point, Mr. Tillerson. The shamelessness of Trump and the hubris of Putin cannot be countenanced for long; not by a system where many and diverse interests and conglomerations have one unifying idea: a market system that does much better under the guise of an open and democratic society than a totalitarian state. It will never let go easily.


Friday, 7 July 2017

a sonnet unfinished

in the quiet moments I can hear you
words to music light and shade to a sketch
it is like the acts that say "I love you"
it turns a man an angel from a wretch
if it were just a song from songbird
and I were but a twinkle in your eyes
it would be divine grace from the absurd
from the depths of hell on to paradise.